in the form of an amazing museum ‘The Northern Life Museum’ http://www.nlmcc.ca/ . It’s in a two story building and some outdoor grounds. I went in the downstairs door which was the wrong entrance oh well I didn’t have to climb the stairs. Once on the main floor I was drawn to this large white bird, and Canus was its name. I had never seen a whooping crane stuffed, in captivity or the wild it is an extremely rare bird, almost extinct https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whooping_crane . This bird helped bring back the species as of 2017 there are an estimated 505 in the wild. Canus got his name because Canada and the United States worked together to breed this crane and do research to help increase the population. He sired 187 chicks and lived to be 40 years old. He was found in Wood Buffalo National Park with a broken wing. The wing had to be amputated I have to say that was a good thing for the species in retrospect. I am glad I was able to catch the buffalo in the wild but they also had to rather large stuffed ones on display. On a side note I was not able to see or hear a whooping crane in the wild.
Another aspect to the museum was to see the involvement of the Roman Catholic missionaries (the Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns) influenced the development of the early settlement of Fort Smith. The mission was a one stop shop for the native people because they started providing education, religious instruction and health care. In fact the nuns were involved with the area until 1979 when a clinic opened. The hospital treated many with tuberculosis which was prevalent in the native people. This location on the Slave River was perfect for a settlement as it lies in an area where several rapids occur and canoes had to be portaged. Only natural that a trading post would spring up and continue to grow with the help of The Hudson’s Bay Co. There is even a replica of a trapper’s cabin.
One thing I did not know about the war is the part that this area played in helping the US in winning World War II. The AlCan was built in BC and the Yukon so Alaska could have protection in the chance that the Japanese would attack. This area had a connection to water and mines and oil wells https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canol_pipeline in Norman Wells so the Canol Project was embarked upon. The museum guide also mention the project was vital in providing material for the Manhattan Project, in fact there is still trace amounts of radioactive material near Fitzgerald which is where the boats were loaded. It is interesting how well our countries worked together. If you ever have a chance this museum is well worth it.
After exploring the inside I decided to step back in history with the replica of a traditional village, the explaination plaques went into great detail down to how the dogs were cared for plus how the fish was turned into food by drying them on a fish stage. For all my geocaching buddies I found a dry cache plus a cold cache none of which I could log. In the villages the dry cache was used to store foods off the ground that could be ruined by winter or vermin. Just a few steps up a ladder and you have a pantry even though it was outdoors. The cold cache was what I would call a fruit cellar dug into the ground. I walked down the stairs and it was at least ten degrees cooler. The building that wasn’t open was the smokehouse there was enough wood to last a while for demonstration purposes. The center piece of the village is the tipi it had a very inviting air to it so I ducked my head inside. Having the history all in one place made this stop a must do. The campground we stayed at was named for Queen Elizabeth the Second after her visit to the Northwest Territories and the have a dedication stone right in the campground . This whole area is filled with history and charm. If that hasn’t gotten you in the mood to visit Fort Smith even has it’s own golf course Roy had to at least try to drive to the end of what roads we still could, This was accomplished by visiting the town of Fitzgerald pop 8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzgerald,_Alberta at the end of NWT 5 I have really enjoyed my time in these small towns you can walk in anywhere and feel like you belong.